January 03, 2015

OBERSTDORF, Germany (AP) Marit Bjoergen led a Norwegian sweep of the podium to win the first stage of the women's cross-country Tour de Ski while Dario Cologna won the men's race on Saturday.

Bjoergen, the six-time Olympic champion, completed the 3-kilometer freestyle opening prologue in 7 minutes, 53 seconds, 10.7 seconds ahead of Heidi Weng and 12.2 ahead of Ragnhild Haga.

''I felt good and had very good skis. I was surprised to hear I had 10 seconds lead in the finish. I feel I am in a good shape and had a good feeling on the skis,'' Bjoergen said after her 85th World Cup win.

There were five Norwegian women in the top six, with Germany's Nicole Fessel in fifth.

Sadie Bjornsen of the United States equaled her career best by finishing seventh.

Cologna, the three-time Olympic champion from Switzerland, won the men's 4K freestyle race, finishing in 9:54.2 to beat Sweden's Calle Halfvarsson by 5 seconds and Norway's Petter Northug by 5.5.

''I did not expect to be on the podium today,'' said Cologna, who had to contend with injuries last year. ''I knew I was in better shape than before. I had a good training during the Christmas . Prologue is just the first competition but it is good to see everything is working well.''

Defending Tour and overall World Cup champion Martin Johnsrud Sundby was 10th.

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